Shop Windows to the Universe

Ready, Set, SCIENCE!, by the National Research Council, focuses on K-8 science classsrooms. Check out the other publications in our online store, as well as classroom materials.
These wonderfully balanced rocks mark a tomb in Wales.
Click on image for full size
Photo courtesy Diego Meozzi/Stone Pages

Pentre Ifan Dolmen Tomb

The stone structures of England and France are very famous. But, one can also find megalithic sites in such places as Wales, Sweden, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Malta, Russia and the Netherlands. The most popular megalithic site in Wales is Pentre Ifan.

Pentre Ifan is a Dolmen structure. A Dolmen structure is a burial place made out of big stones and those stones are often balancing on top of one another to form an arch or a fort-like structure. Here you can see the one large rock delicately balanced on three more slender upright stones. All of the stones are local igneous rocks. The large capstone weighs over 16 tons and is held eight feet off the ground!

Pentre Ifan can be found near the town of Fishguard in Wales. It is thought to be from around 3,500 B.C. Its name translates to Ivan's Village.

Many times, archeologists and archeoastronomers will look at the orientation of a structure to see if it is aligned towards the setting or rising of the Sun, Moon or certain star on a special day like a solstice. Pentre Ifan isn't typical in orientation. It is aligned north-south. Archeologists and archeoastronomers haven't placed any special significance on this orientation.

Unfortunately, excavation hasn't produced many artifacts at all from this ancient time period. Human remains were not found here, but archeologists are sure that this served as a common burial ground for the people who built it.

Local legend has it that fairies are sometimes seen at Pentre Ifan. They are described as "little children in clothes like soldiers' clothes with red caps." The mystery and majesty of megalithic sites often breed such tales as this.

Last modified September 19, 2000 by Jennifer Bergman.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store.

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

The Stonehenge Monument

There are over 900 stone rings located in the British Isles. Scholars say that over twice this many may have existed long ago. The most famous of these stone rings is of course, Stonehenge. Stonehenge...more

The Stones of Carnac

The stones of Carnac, France, are probably the most famous stones markings outside of those found at Stonehenge in England. Where Stonehenge is composed of standing stones, the Carnac area has many different...more

Megaliths Revealed

Many people are interested in the mysterious megalithic structures that can be found around the world. This page will give you all the ins and outs so these structures aren't such a mystery! First, a megalithic...more

The Stones of Fossa

The stone structures of England and France are very famous. But, one can also find stone rings, tombs, and dolmen structures in present-day Italy. One such megalithic structure is a site in Fossa, Abruzzo....more

Native American Astronomy

By 30,000 B.C,. Asian hunter-gatherers had crossed the Bering Strait into North America. These people were the first to inhabit this new land and so they are known as the Native Americans of North America....more

Archeoastronomy

"The movements of the heavenly bodies are an admirable thing, well known and manifest to all peoples. There are no people, no matter how barbaric and primitive, that do not raise up their eyes, take note,...more

The Cairns of Clava

Not too far from Loch Ness, where the green highlands of Scotland rise and fall there lies three giant cairns of stones. They are called the Balnuaran of Clava. The Balnuaran of Clava, giant tombs encased...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA